The Separation Anxiety of The Amazing Spider-Man 4

by Michael DeLaney

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Say it with me now: “With great power comes great responsibility.” The phrase that the house of Spider-Man was built on has taken literal form as “Back to Basics” continues in The Amazing Spider-Man 4. Only in the wacky world of comic bookdom could we have two separate Spider-Men: Great Power & Great Responsibility (Superman Red & Superman Blue?) created as the byproduct of science.

Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley continue to explore what these essential qualities of Spider-Man/Peter Parker look like when put under separate microscopes. For brevity’s sake I will refer to “Great Power” as Spider-Man and “Great Responsibility” as Peter. Without his responsibility, Spider-Man is actually more successful than he’s ever been – depending on how you measure success.

Spidey has used his spider-powers and marketing powers to make Spider-Man more popular than he’s ever been. In addition to some (destructive) hero-ing, the ‘ol webhead is hitting up the talk shows, repping some sponsors and making a couple ride-share bucks on the side. 

It’s important to note that Ottley has yet to draw this Spider-Man unmasked. While its safe to assume that he will look exactly like the Peter Parker we expect him to, this is not Peter. This is Spider-Man, or rather Spider-Man’s id who “does whatever a spider can,” because why wouldn’t he?

Peter seems to be doing a lot worse than his Spidey compatriot, however. In a series of well-intentioned failures, we see that Pete will still try to be a do-gooder, spider-powers or not. In Spider-Man lore, Peter often refers to his misfortunes as “Parker luck.”

Is this bad luck only attributed to Peter Parker being Peter Parker, or is it more complex than that? It looks like the message here is that Peter has crap luck because he chooses to help people. People don’t do the right thing for a reward, they do it because its the right thing to do. After all, “action is his reward.”

Another thing to point out is that since the Peter/Spidey separation, Peter remains the sole narrator of The Amazing Spider-Man. By giving this “responsibility” to Peter, Spencer underscores that there is no Spider-Man without Peter. Peter is a bystander in his own life and as our point of view, we are bystanders with him. By separating the man from the spider, Spencer reminds us why we are invested in this character, and it’s not for his powers, amazing they may be.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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